Top News from 2004

SEPTEMBER  20, 2004                    RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Porter Hospital Budget Approved by the State of Vermont as Submitted

Porter Hospital has been notified by the State that our operating budget for fiscal year 2005 was approved as submitted, however rate increase requests by five of the state's hospitals were reduced by the Commissioner of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, John Crowley, before those institutions' budgets were approved.

Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington received the most scrutiny from Crowley, who granted Fletcher Allen an 8.5 percent rate increase. The hospital requested 10 percent. Crowley also ordered Fletcher Allen to reduce its spending by 1 percent.

Other revenue changes Crowley ordered for Fletcher Allen will leave the hospital with an operating margin of 4.3 percent.

After reviewing testimony and suggestions by the Public Oversight Commission, Crowley also cut the rate increases sought by four other hospitals:

  • Rutland Regional Medical Center received a 2 percent rate increase. It sought a 2.4 percent increase.
  • Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington sought a 7.5 percent increase and received 6 percent.
  • Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin sought 7 percent and received 5.5 percent.
  • Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans sought 2.9 percent and got 2.5 percent.

Crowley accepted the budget proposals and rate increase requests of the state's nine other hospitals. They are: Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 6.6 percent; Copley Hospital in Morrisville, 8 percent; Gifford Memorial Hospital in Randolph, 5.3 percent; Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend, 3.6 percent; Mount Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor, 6.5 percent; North Country Hospital and Health Center in Newport, 7.1 percent; Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury, no change; Porter Hospital, 6.5 percent; and Springfield Hospital, 4.8 percent.


AUGUST 10, 2004                        RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

MIDDLEBURY--Porter Hospital has submitted its annual operating and capital budgets to the State of Vermont and will present a summary of key budget assumptions at the annual budget hearings in late August.  Each Vermont hospital must submit its budget to the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Healthcare Administration (BISHCA) in June, followed by hearings in August and a decision by the Commissioner in September.  Hospital fiscal years run from October 1 through September 30.

For fiscal year 2005, Porter Hospital has budgeted $36,561,053 in expenses, an increase of 4.3% from last year and less than half the state-wide average budget increase of 9.1% based on the budget submissions from Vermont's other 13 hospitals. Porter has requested an overall rate increase of 6.5%, which also compares favorably to the state-wide average of 7.7% and projects an operating margin of 1.9% vs. the state-wide average of 3.1%.

"This is a responsible operating budget designed to meet the needs of our community , while remaining sensitive to keeping our expenses as low as possible," said PMC Vice President for Public Relations Ron Hallman. Porter Hospital Chairman, Kip Freeman, believes that looking beyond the numbers, the hospital budget reflects a number of programmatic changes that are important to our community. He cites recent investments in technology as evidence of these positive changes.  "In the last couple years Porter has invested in equipment upgrades that have enhanced our mammography services with a goal of improving care and reducing the time patients had to wait for appointments, incorporate the latest advances in diagnostic technology, and improve the efficiency of our staff" he said.  "In addition, Porter is well advanced in developing a community assessment plan mandated by state legislators with the passage of Act 53 which we hope will further help focus our future budget expenditures around the specific needs of our community."

Freeman also pointed to the hospitals ongoing support of the local "Open Door Clinic" as an indication that Porter understands its unique and vital role as a catalyst in the delivery of health care services to our entire community. 

Like any major employer, a significant percentage of Porter Hospital's expenses are related to salary, benefits and various types of insurance such as workers compensation, malpractice and general liability. Another major factor in the hospital's budget is the difference between hospital charges and what the hospital is paid by both the state and federal programs, Medicaid and Medicare.  In recent years, Porter has received less than 65 cents on the dollar for services provided to the Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries which make up approximately half of our hospital and physician office visits.

In terms of the capital budget for next year, Porter has indicated that their pending Certificate of Need application for the North Project will result in a modernization project of $16,554,789 which the hospital hopes to begin in the spring.


APRIL 22, 2004                                                 RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

A recent survey by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) resulted in Porter Hospital receiving "Accreditation With No Follow-up Requirements" - the highest possible status. A separate survey of the Porter Hospital Laboratory yielded a few minor follow-up requirements, but overall also was an outstanding result.

Porter Hospital, like many hospitals nation-wide, participates in a Joint Commission survey every three years in order to maintain JCAHO accreditation. The 3 day survey is intended to evaluate how well Porter Hospital provides for the health care needs of our community, including the delivery of patient care services, ensuring patient safety, facility maintenance and numerous other measures and standards.  According to the two JCAHO surveyors who conducted this survey, Porter Hospital is the first hospital which they have surveyed to achieve the "Accreditation with No Follow-up Requirements" status since the new JCAHO standards went into effect last January.

"We are extremely proud of our hospital staff, our board and our physicians for the roles they played in this very comprehensive survey process-and gratified that the results of this survey affirm that Porter Hospital provides outstanding patient care," said Porter Hospital board chairman Kip Freeman.

The survey report did include comments in support of Porter Hospital's plans to improve and modernize its surgical facilities indicating that the primary elements of the proposed "North Project" will be essential in allowing Porter to maintain high quality patient care into the future.

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